Lawsuit: Paper mail-in ballots suppress blind, disabled voters

Texas

FILE – In this May 27, 2020 file photo, processed mail-in ballots are seen at the Bucks County Board of Elections office prior to the primary election in Doylestown, Pa. A network of deep-pocketed progressive donors are launching a $59 million effort to encourage people of color to vote by mail in November, a step many Democrats view as crucial to turning out the party’s base during a global pandemic. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Disability Rights Texas filed a lawsuit Friday on behalf of several plaintiffs against the Texas Secretary of State’s office claiming blind people and others with disabilities are being suppressed due to paper mail-in ballots.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind Texas The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and three individuals, says paper ballots aren’t accessible to the blind or people with disabilities and other options need to be available.

The lawsuit says Ruth Hughs, the Texas Secretary of State, has “refused to allow counties to implement” other solutions. A press release from Disability Rights Texas outlines potential solutions to the issue, both temporary and permanent.

“Electronic ballots delivered by email for military personnel and overseas voters are already available and could be made accessible as an immediate temporary solution to the problem,” Disability Rights Texas said. “Numerous low-cost and no-cost accessible electronic ballot delivery systems are available and used by many other jurisdictions as permanent solutions.”

Lia Davis, a senior attorney for Disability Rights Texas, says there’s plenty of time for Hughs to make accessible mail-in ballots for the blind and others with disabilities, and that Hughs’ refusal to do that is discriminatory.

“People who are blind have a right to use the mail-in ballot option, and they should not be unnecessarily exposed to the COVID-19 virus at the polls. We believe there is an easy remedy to this problem and the Secretary of State’s obstinance is discriminatory,” Davis said.

KXAN has reached out to the Secretary of State’s office, but haven’t heard back.

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